It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since I wrote here. In my mind it was only a few months ago. Wow, the things we can do with our minds to psyche ourselves out. Actually, I’m pretty good at that.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday” it’s called and I’m feeling weepy and feeling the need to stay close to the home front. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays always leave me feeling this way. They are times that I remember feeling happy at home when I was growing up. Always a time of family togetherness, food, and love, it was warmth and a feeling of safety. Dad and Mom would alternate cooking the dinner between these two holidays. We would gather round the big table and feast and talk (and sometimes yell). I’m not sure why these times made me feel happy. But I think it was because everyone was there–Mom, Dad, Stef, Lisa, Champ, and me. Earlier in my life there was a dog or two, too.
As I grew up the basic scene was more or less the same but the coming years made significant changes. The dinners still happened but now I lived far away from my family home. Then as one year passed the next I couldn’t come home for this or that reason. Then Stef was gone, and there was a big hole but we trudged on. Of course, once my sister passed away, it left anguish in that gaping hole. My parents were not the same. I think a little piece of my mother went to her second-born child and we lost that in our interactions with her.
Even as Stefanie left, some joined. Ty, Tim, and V — the grandkids made their entrances. My parents found great joy in them but there was a permanent change of family shape–kind of like when one leg of the table is off-balance and the table rocks when you touch it. They brought laughter, light, and life to the family, but there was a kind of automatic movement, a sort-of mechanical acting out of the seasonal celebrations. What did it matter now anyway? Holidays were really for children, right?
Then I moved further away and took V with me. I was no longer able to get home as before. I know that it left a gaping wound for my mother who had permanently lost one child and was now experiencing a kind of quasi-loss with me. Still, the years passed. Many things happened and life went on as much as possible, as before.
But then Daddy was gone.
And when he departed what I saw in my mother surprised me. I never knew she really cared. for so many years she often feigned indifference to him and always seemed to be fatigued and weary of his presence and tirades. To me, she had always seemed annoyed by him throughout the years, tolerating him for the sake of…. But now I saw her grief doubled as she mourned the loss of her estranged husband, but dear friend. Although they heckled each other, there was much love there, and they had grown used to the comfort in that arrangement. She depended on him in ways I did not fully comprehend, until he was gone.
There was effort. The traditional family gatherings went on though there were many missing elements now. Still, we held to the occasions gallantly. I was not present, and Stef and Dad were gone, but there were always the phone calls which tried to compensate for the absence of physical presence. Peppered with many ‘I love yous” throughout, the rotations of conversations with everyone present on both sides of the wires was the best we could do. But it was better than nothing.
Mama died last year and now just three siblings remain–grown but orphaned by the loss of the parental figures–the backbone of a family that yielded many happy years of togetherness, and love. I have a great longing for family and community. I want to be surrounded by the feelings and energy that I remember from my childhood. I want to be among loved ones, basking in the light of love and what really matters. Happy to have V with me, I am still lonely for all that from my yesteryears, and that is what I am feeling weepy about today. While people are out shopping and preparing for the next big cultural occasion, I am musing about how to get that long-ago feeling back.